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To our policyholders in areas affected by the recent hurricanes, please know that the thoughts and prayers of everyone at Aflac are with you. We are working with government agencies that represent all declared disaster areas to ensure we do everything possible to help you. Based on that guidance, we have extended the due dates for policy premiums by 60 days for those living in places that have been declared disaster areas. If you have a question about your policy or need help, contact us at 800-992-3522. To help with the recovery, Aflac made a $500,000 donation to the American Red Cross, and our employees are making their own private contributions. Please be safe, as the care of you and your families is paramount.

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A dog may be man’s best friend, but cats rule the internet.

The magic of social media and YouTube has created bona fide web-based stars: There’s the eternally disgruntled Grumpy Cat; Henri, the French existentialist; Little Bub, with his bulging eyes and stumpy legs; and Maru, the porcine fellow who never met a box too small to squeeze into.

Owning a pet can improve health, but how can that translate into workplace benefits?

Whether you’re a cat person or a stand-by-your-dog loyalist, there is something you should know: Owning and loving a pet can make you a happier person. According to WebMD, pet owners have greater self-esteem, are more conscientious, and are less fearful and preoccupied than those without pets. They’re also more socially outgoing and believe they receive as much support from their pets as they do from family members.1

Given that being around pets at home has many benefits, you might wonder whether there are benefits to having animals in the workplace too. According to surveys, the answer is a resounding “yes.” For example, a recent poll revealed that employees and human resources decision-makers give pets in the workplace high marks in terms of improving their owners’ emotional well-being and on-the-job performance.

Do you agree or disagree that allowing pets in the workplace affects the following workplace factors?

Employees HR Decision-makers
Improved employee morale 88% agree 91% agree
Employee sense of well-being 86% agree 93% agree
Reduced stress for employees 86% agree 92% agree
Greater work/life balance 85% agree 91% agree
Greater loyalty to company 82% agree 91% agree
Increased productivity 67% agree 81% agree
Ability to work longer hours 75% agree 87% agree

Source: Banfield Pet Hospital Pet-Friendly Workplace PAWrometer™, a 2016 survey of 1,006 employees and 200 human resources decision- makers from a mix of company sizes and industries across the United States.2

Improved health benefits of pets

In addition to improving employees’ outlooks and even their workplace behavior, evidence shows that owning a pet can improve their overall health. According to WebMD:3

  • Dogs may decrease the chance of heart disease. That’s because dog owners take their pets for walks, and people who walk regularly have lower blood pressure than those who don’t.
  • ekg / heart iconDog owners who’ve survived heart attacks and individuals with serious, abnormal heart rhythms live longer than people without pets who suffer from the same maladies.
  • Petting a cat or dog makes the furry friend happy. It can also lower the petter’s blood pressure, help the body release a relaxation hormone and reduce levels of stress hormones.
  • Pets are people magnets, so they can help people better connect with others.
  • People with pets visit the doctor less often for minor problems.
  • Babies raised in pet friendly homes are less likely to have allergies and asthma. They may also have fewer colds and ear infections.

The power of the purr

lady with cat iconEarlier, we noted that cats rule the internet. Perhaps their power comes partially form their purr. A University of Minnesota Stroke Center study found that cat owners are 40 percent less likely to have heart attacks than those without cats.

Is it due to the calming vibrations of purring? Some say yes. One possible explanation is the rhythm and volume of a purr’s vibrations. According to an article in Scientific American, “Cats purr with a consistent pattern and frequency between 25 and 150 hertz. Various investigators have shown that sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote health.”4

Is it time to plan for health care?

You take your responsibility for giving your employees access to top-rate health and medical benefits seriously. That starts with major medical insurance and should include voluntary insurance, which helps not only with copayments and deductibles, but also the bills that continue to come when a worker is sick or hurt and unable to work.

Perhaps it’s time to add to your health care plan by opening your company’s doors to four-legged cubicle mates. The nuisance of pet hair is a small price to pay in exchange for the potential of less stressed, more productive and more loyal employees.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a solicitation.